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Eyeing Tesla’s deadly crash, China looks at further autonomous vehicle regulations

This year’s fatal crash of an electric car made by American electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla, which killed the driver, has caused a panic among the transport departments of many countries. China is one of them.

Forbes reported on June 30 that a Tesla Model S on autopilot mode had run into a tractor-trailer and killed its driver. This was the first fatal crash of a Tesla automobile worldwide.

She Weizhen, a section chief of the automobile department at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the PRC, told Chinese media on the 2016 AUTOICT forum on Tuesday that authorities will draft regulatory bylaws with the Ministry of Public Security later this year, and it will likely impact the autonomous vehicle industry, including road tests.

On the one hand, the regulations may help ensure better road safety, as many Chinese companies have been testing their own autonomous cars. On the other hand, however, it will inevitably slow down the technological development of automatic driving in China.

Chinese search engine giant Baidu has been working on automatic driving since 2013. The company completed the first road test for its autonomous car in Beijing in December 2015.

Latecomers into this field include other tech giants including Tencent, Alibaba and LeEco. LeEco built a team to make electric vehicles in America in 2014, and launched its first automatic driving concept car in April.

Chinese automobile manufacturer Chang’an Automobile completed its 2,000km road test for its autonomous cars in April. Other manufacturers, including Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, Guangzhou Automobile Group and BYD have also joined in automatic driving.

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